A Division II tight end in the second round? Who is Tarik Cohen from North Carolina A&T? These along with many other questions ran through many peoples minds on draft day. But on Sunday, all the doubters were silenced.
The Bears blew out the Bengals 33-6 snapping a five game losing streak. Mealiness win? For the coaching staff yes, but the players need something to build on for next season.
After yesterdays performance from every draft pick, besides Jordan Morgan who is on injured reserve, I come to the conclusion that Ryan Pace did a great job in drafting the future of the Bears. Mitchell Trubisky had his best game to date and is only going to get better with the right head coach. Adam Shaheen saw 32 snaps on offense and showcased his ability to be a playmaker. Tarik Cohen’s explosiveness is fun to watch and his versatility is why he can be a special player. And Eddie Jackson had two takeaways proving he was one of the best safeties in last years draft.
Every player contributed to the win. I think that is something very special and a credit to Pace and his scouts in drafting their guys and going against the grain.
Pace is in year three of being the Bears general manager. Looking back at his prior drafts, he has made some great selections in Jordan Howard, Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, Eddie Goldman, and Nick Kwiatkoski. Other like Kevin White and Hroniss Grasu have either been hurt or have failed to make an impact on the field. So going into the 2017 draft, Pace had to hit on guys because year three was when the Bears were going to be competitive.
While the Bears are 4-9, the performances from their rookie class is a bright spot in what was supposed to be a competitive season. There was a lot to like from yesterdays game and brings hope that the Bears can get back to their winning tradition next season.
Thomas Gibbons takes a look at each rookie’s performance from the 33-6 win in Cincinnati.
Stat line: 25/32 271 yards 1 TD; 2 rushes for 5 yards and 1TD.
Trubisky became their first rookie to throw and run for a touchdown in a single game since Jim McMahon.
Trubisky played his best game to date in his Bears career. Yesterday’s performance was why you traded up one spot to draft him. Playing in his home state of Ohio, Trubisky took a big step in his development. Now when you surround him with top tier wide receivers,watch out.
Bears fans have waiting long enough for a franchise quarterback. Jay Cutler overstayed his time in Chicago and fans moved on from him a long time ago. In comes Trubisky, who still has a lot of work to do but in a small sample size has proven why he was drafted No. 2 overall. His accuracy and footwork were solid on Sunday, and he took over that football game. It was a great sign for Pace and the fans that Trubisky can turn into something special.
Stat line: 4 catches for 44 yards, 1 TD.
Why is your second round pick not seeing the field? Bears OC Dowell Loggains said this week that the Ashland product has not fully grasped all the concepts in the playbook. While that is concerning considering it’s week 14, you have to find a way to get him on the field. And finally, the Bears managed to do that.
There has been a public outcry for Shaheen to see the field given his size and play making ability. His absence on the field is one of many reason why this coaching staff is on their way out. But on Sunday, we got to see Shaheen for 32 snaps on offense and he took full advantage of his opportunity.
Shaheen is a macthup nightmare for opposing teams. His height and his big frame is a tough match-up for any player. Those two attributes is why his role in previous weeks was questioned heavily. If he does not understand all the concepts yet, there should be packages created for him to get on the field. Dion Sims has not produced like you hope he would have. Shaheen should see an even bigger role for the remaining three games.
Stat line: 12 carries for 80 yards
Cohen had a touchdown taken away because of a block in the back. Man this guy cannot catch a break.
Outside of that, Cohen displayed his athleticism and versatility once again on Sunday. The Darren Sproles comparison continues to live on with the North Carolina A&T product.
With Cohen, you can line him up in the backfield, in the slot, and he can return punts and kickoffs. He is your modern day super utility player, a secret weapon. It is really fun to watch Cohen on Sunday’s and turning out to be a great selection for the Bears.
A backfield of Howard, who has surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the second year in a row, and Cohen is well, pretty dangerous. Howard brings patience and great vision while Cohen will beat you to the edge and make you look silly. The nickname “Thunder and Lightening” has come up multiple times and there is no denying it. Cohen will continue to master the offense and break bad habits and he can really become a great player in the league.
Stat line: 5 tackles, 1 PD, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery
Jackson was my favorite pick of the 2017 draft class. A ball-hawk and after watching him at Alabama, I wanted him to play at Soldier Field.
I had high hopes for Jackson, one being earning the starting job over Adrian Amos in camp. His instincts and play making ability was definitely better than Amos and Jackson could start the change of culture in the Bears secondary. Takeaways have not been on the list of Bears accomplishments recently, but Jackson has the ability to change that and he has.
Along with being healthy, Jackson has grown and while he has had some bad games, Sunday performance’s is a prime example of why the Bears traded up to get him.
Cornerback and safety is a need of the Bears going into the off-season. The Bears are going to be drafting fairly high in the draft and there is some top end defensive back talent. Alabama star Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of them and would be a great selection as the Bears are still in the process of re-tooling their secondary. Jackson and Fitzpatrick at safety would be an awesome combination. Hey, a man can dream can’t he?
The Bears have something brewing here. With just three games left, it is important to see continued growth and reassurance that these four players can be faces of the franchise.